Relatives of a 7-year-old boy who suffered horrific abuse before being killed by his stepmother and father and fed to pigs have filed a lawsuit alleging social service workers in Kansas and Missouri knew the boy was being tortured and could have prevented his death.
The maternal grandmother, biological mother and oldest sister of Adrian Jones claim in a lawsuit filed this week that social workers didn’t permanently remove the boy from his home despite documenting repeated calls and reports of abuse over several years.
The lawsuit seeks $25 million in punitive damages.
Adrian’s remains were found in a pigsty outside the family’s Kansas City, Kansas, home in November 2015.
Heather Jones complained to Facebook friends about her seven-year-old stepson Adrian before he was brutally killed and fed to feeder pigs at their home in Kansas City, Kansas, in 2015
The sick stepmother told friends how she tried to subdue Adrian by keeping him restrained ’95 percent of the time’ to control his behavior. Footage recovered from their home after his arrest show how she made him stand outside in the cold for hours holding tiki torches
She also discussed new techniques for torturing him and shared photographs with the boy’s father of him strapped to an inversion table
His father, Michael Jones, and stepmother, Heather Jones, are both serving life in prison without parole for at least 25 years for his death.
The lawsuit, filed in both Jackson County, Missouri, and Wyandotte County, Kansas, said the boy’s death was ‘an entirely avoidable child-homicide.’
It claims social workers ‘meticulously investigated and carefully documented the abuse’ and generated stacks of reports chronicling the abuse.
‘But their idea of intervention was limited, almost exclusively, to having A.J.’s father and stepmother sign a piece of paper agreeing to stop torturing the child — the legal equivalent of a “pinky swear”,’ the lawsuit says.
Among torture techniques was to make Adrian tread water in filthy water
The depraved pair made Adrian wear a cutting board strapped to his bony chest to keep him upright
She also researched ‘full enclosures’ to keep him in and had even looked up a blanket designed for transporting human bodies
Jones openly told Facebook friends about keeping the boy behind a plywood door in the shower
‘As it turned out, that signed paper might as well have been A.J.’s death warrant.’
During the Jones’ separate trials, prosecutors said the boy essentially starved to death.
Adrian suffered terrible cuts to his lips by trying to chew his way out of the plywood cell his parents created for him
Surveillance videos from the home showed his deterioration as he was kept naked in a shower stall, forced to sleep outside and sometimes shocked with a stun gun.
Named in the lawsuit are the state of Kansas, the Department of Children and Families and its director, Phyllis Gilmore.
Named in Missouri are 10 employees of the Department of Social Services, as well as the Family Guidance Center of St. Joseph, a Kansas City residential children’s home and employees of both organizations.
The lawsuit says the child service agencies ‘could have stepped in and rescued A.J. at any point during the child’s lengthy, unimaginable ordeal — that was their job, after all. But instead of intervening, they chose to act like disinterested bystanders.’
Records from Missouri detail several visits to the family and show Adrian told a social worker and police officer that he was being abused.
And 2,000 pages of documents released earlier by Kansas detailed contacts with the family going back to 2011.
Michael and Heather Jones are both serving life with a minimum of 25 years before they are eligible for parole
When Adrian succumbed to his injuries in late September 2015, his sick father fed him to the family’s feeder pigs to try to cover up the horror he had inflicted on him
The lawsuit also indicates the boy was sent to therapists and other mental health institutions but was always returned to his father and stepmother.
Rebecca Woelfel, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Social Services, said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
Spokeswoman Theresa Freed said the Kansas DCF hadn’t been served with the lawsuit and referred to comments Gilmore made earlier this year.
Gilmore said tracking the family was difficult because they moved frequently between the two states but she insisted the agency shared information with its Missouri counterparts and ‘thoroughly investigated’ each reported incident of abuse.